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Clemson Stops Student Praying on Campus: Not a Free Speech Area

Clemson Stops Student Praying on Campus: Not a Free Speech Area

Clemson is a public university – The whole campus is a free speech zone.

A Clemson University student who is part of Young Americans for Freedom was praying on campus with a man who’s not a student this weekend when an administrator approached them and told them to stop.

Red Alert Politics reported:

Clemson stops man from praying on campus: ‘Not a free speech area’ [VIDEO]

A man was stopped by a Clemson University administrator for praying on campus, telling him and a Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) activist that “this is not a designated free speech area,” and asking them to leave the area. YAF’s blog The New Guard released the video today.

The administrator, Shawn Jones who is the assistant director for client services, also called their praying “solicitation,” and demanded that they would need to fill out paperwork to continue. Clemson receives state and federal funding, and many see these restrictions as disregarding the First Amendment to the Constitution by limiting free speech to certain zones.

The Young Americans for Freedom member, Kyra Palange, asked the administrator, “by that, you mean there are free speech areas on campus and that the entire campus is not a free speech area?”

Jones responded, “that is correct.”

Palange released the following statement to YAF:

“I was walking across the grassy area near Fort Hill after class at about 3:15 when I saw someone sitting in a folding chair. Next to him was another folding chair with an 8×10 sign that said PRAYER. I approached him and we sat down to pray for a few minutes. When we finished, a man from the university approached us and said he could not be praying there because it was not a “designated free speech area” and presented the person who was praying with a form for the procedures for applying for “solicitation” on campus. He told him he had to leave.”

Here’s the video:

As noted above, Clemson is a public university which makes this incident even more questionable. A campus representative of YAF concurred.

Campus Reform reports:

In an interview with Campus Reform, Palange said she was extremely surprised by the fact that Clemson would kick a man off campus for praying in a non free speech zone, arguing that the entire campus should be a free speech zone.

“As a public and publicly funded university, I did not think Clemson would even have free speech zones,” she remarked. “I did not think it was legal for them to remove a non-student from campus simply for communicating with students.”

William Turton, a Clemson student and chairman of the university’s YAF chapter, told Campus Reform that the administration’s claim of solicitation was unreasonable.

“This is a public space on a public university, so the idea that non-students aren’t allowed free speech on certain areas of campus is unreasonable,” Turton remarked.

“It’s a stretch to say that a man praying is the same as someone setting up shop and selling stuff on campus,” he added, observing that “[Roberts] wasn’t going out and running up to students and asking them to pray with him, the man was not being disruptive in anyway at all.”

America desperately needs higher education reform, if only to protect freedom of speech.

Featured image via YouTube.


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The default position is that America IS a “free-speech zone”.

There are some appropriate exemptions, but they are the exception. Not the other way round.

    kevino in reply to Ragspierre. | August 30, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    RE: “The default position is that America IS a ‘free-speech zone’.”
    Damn straight!

    I had a problem with a guy in a bar not too long ago who didn’t like something my friends and I said. I gave my standard reply: “That ground you’re standing on is part of the United States. It has a Constitution with certain amendments. You might want to read the first one.”

We are slowing turning into China

From the description, it sounds like the real offense was putting up a sign that said “prayer.”

And, what if the students refuse to comply with these unlawful orders?

1) We need another Rosa Parks.
2) Why are taxpayer dollars going to universities? Is that Constitutional?

    TX-rifraph: And, what if the students refuse to comply with these unlawful orders?

    Students are not under the same restrictions. The person with the sign was from outside the university. Reasonable restrictions to assembly such as to time, place, and manner are allowable.

Do they consider classrooms and lecture halls free speech zones?

buckeyeminuteman | August 30, 2016 at 12:46 pm

This is the fundamental transformation America voted for.

Boy howdy, the campus staff-thugs keep finding new things for FIRE to do…

Make that idiot call the police and force them out. He sounds like a robot incapable of individual thought and common sense.

Only if the speech is liberal students and teachers shouting over and interrupting evil conservatives. That’s not only allowed but encouraged as the only true form of free speech.

UT Austin in the 70s had area where the non-student street preachers yelled; and the West Mall where students like Iranians could protest the Shah, Aparthied was protested, etc. Typically non-students were not allowed to disturb the peace on campus. This sounds like a non-student was doing something -carrying signs – not just passing through.

Just this year, NC State University in Raleigh lost in a Federal Court case very similar tot he facts in this case. (South Carolina is in the same Federal Court of Appeals District)


    Redneck Law: Just this year, NC State University in Raleigh lost in a Federal Court case very similar tot he facts in this case.

    That is incorrect. The person with the sign at Clemson was not a student or faculty.

DINORightMarie | August 30, 2016 at 7:02 pm

…Clemson is a public university which makes this incident even more questionable. A campus representative of YAF concurred…..

I believe the word you mean is “egregious” not “questionable” – that there is free speech being curtailed at a public university receiving public funds makes the incident, as you call it, a travesty of our Constitutionally-protected rights, not a policy that is questionable.

I’m an agnostic cultural Christian and I resent the war on Christianity as much as anyone but every time I hear about one of these public prayer cases I remember Matthew 6.6:

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

See, I went to Sunday School, too.

By the way, the first amendment doesn’t protect you from consequences of speech on private property. It only keeps (theoretically) the government from passing laws affecting your speech.

    rabidfox in reply to hvlee. | August 31, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    But can Clemson, a public university, really be considered ‘private property’?

    Arminius in reply to hvlee. | September 1, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    As rabidfox points out, Clemson is not a private institution. It’s public. And haven’t you heard? There is no such thing as private property in this country anymore. Businesses open to the public are “public accommodations.”

    I’ll believe a “private” employer has the right to violate my constitutional rights when a business owner has the right not to bake a gay wedding cake. Then I’ll believe that business is truly private property.

    And if only the government, not a private citizen, can violate my rights under the 1st Amendment, does that also hold true for my rights under the 13th Amendment?

    If not, why not?

Anyone who is really interested in this needs to read this article from the Clemson student newspaper. It adds additional, important, facts:
The most important of those is, perhaps, that the evangelist is quoted as saying “[He told me] ‘You can sit there as long as you want,” Roberts said, “but you can’t have this sign.’” It wasn’t his presence or the prayer that was limited, but the solicitation. And not only did the administrator object, he provided the evangelist the means to try to get permission to do just what he was doing. If the nonsolicitation policy is content-neutral (i.e. it turns on things like how disruptive or noisy or physically large the solicitation will be, not on the content of the solicitation), it’s almost certainly constitutional since the same kind of limitations are routinely upheld on city sign codes and similar situations. This is a tempest in a teapot which sensationalizes one aspect of the incident while ignoring what it is really about.